I am at my gate at the airport. (Super early, but with books to read and an episode of Drag Race to watch).
I’m off to Cuba. My first time on a warm beach. My first time outside of North America. A solo vacation. Time to step away and break out of the brutal constant and ongoing stress I’ve been facing for I don’t really know how long. For over a year it has felt as though the hits just keep coming, but I’m not entirely sure I ever got over the burnout I felt in 2012.
But this last year…
Last January I lost my friend Laurie, and then my Gramps in March, followed closely by my husband’s grandmother, then my father-in-law, now my dog. There have also been the deaths of Gord Downie and recently Paul Dewar, two good men I had the opportunity to work with. Ongoing chaos at work, though steady employment. And my daughter’s anxiety to top it all off – something we have been working hard on for months now but can throw you for a loop at a moment’s notice and tear apart anything you decided to plan for a day.
I was meant to go to Hawaii before Christmas. It would have been hectic, the getting there, but it would have been a break. And then my father-in-law was suddenly at the end and we were thrown into chaos and grief again.
Some days I’m fine and some days I’m not. Mostly it feels like I never have time to get better. To get the sleep I need, to exercise, to fix myself or get into any kind of routine. Constants. We have had no constants for what seems like years.
I’m going away to a warm beach for a week with little connectivity and nothing to do but read and recover, and it feels like I don’t deserve any of it.
When I was a kid, I think around my daughter’s age now, my mom – a single mother raising two daughters and working full time – planned herself a trip. She needed a break. (I had little understanding at the time just how much she would have needed and deserved a break). She planned herself a trip to London, England being one of her favourite places in the world. She bought new luggage, she had theatre tickets. I remember how excited she was. And then her trip was cancelled. A larger than expected tax bill and it was all taken away from her.
And now, on her birthday – she turns 72 today – I am leaving for Cuba, for that break, and she has told me forcefully that no one deserves this break more than me.
I’m scared. I’m scared to be in a foreign place, I’m scared to be alone with my thoughts, I’m scared of finally feeling a little bit better and then coming back and falling back into this hole. But I’m going. I’m going to be warm. I’m going to swim in the ocean. I’m going to read on the beach. I’m going to be alone, sleeping when I want to, eating what I want to when I want to.
I have devices full of books and TV shows and movies. I have notebooks to fill with writing and drawings. I have no idea what to expect on the other end of it, but we’ll see.